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Thursday, June 8, 2023


Contributing to the community translates to lower student debts

Coogs Volunteer

Francis Emelogu//The Daily Cougar

The journey to graduating college is hard. Students have to study massive textbooks, brave through fierce finals, accumulate the right credits and don’t forget about paying that hefty tuition bill each year, which often requires taking out student loans.

Now more than ever, not only is tuition skyrocketing, but the debt that succeeds it is piling to amounts so high, it seems impossible to repay it all. Thankfully, there is a new approach to conquering this debt, and it is by partaking in something graduates can be passionate about: volunteering.

An innovative organization named Sponsor Change presents an interesting new option for those trapped financially by the payments and interest of their student loans. By reaching out in the community and taking part in benefit events, graduates can earn money towards their college debts.

According to the Sponsor Change website, it begins with graduates visiting their website to create a “Change Agent” profile portraying their interests and qualifications, which can be seen by non-profit organizations seeking talented individuals to get involved with their projects.

Unfortunately, Sponsor Change is not currently in the Houston area. Presently located in Pittsburgh, Penn., Washington and Chicago, this organization hopes to expand and extend to other cities. In order to do this, volunteer organizations can sign up for to expedite this transition.

However, whether a student is creating a job profile or a profile for Sponsor Change, it is beneficial that the graduate have background in volunteering. Community involvement is exactly the kind of experience non-profit institutions look for when reviewing the profiles of many eligible applicants.

In addition, community involvement is also the kind of experience that other job markets look for.

According to a study from The Corporation for National and Community Service, active volunteers are 27 percent more likely to get a job than non-volunteers.

Therefore, not only is volunteering with Sponsor Change a great way to help pay back those crushing student debts, but having a job that pays students to help others can assist in gaining a career in the future.

Although, a convenient and rewarding way for the entire student body to join in on the volunteering movement now is via UH’s Metropolitan Volunteer Program, an organization dedicated to offering students access to more than 30 non-profit ventures.

By attending the events hosted by MVP, Cougars can build a more qualified resume for Sponsor Change and increase the amount of opportunities to pay off school loans.

“We hope that students will get involved not only with us, but are also encouraged to make a change within the community any way possible,” said MVP Director Tiara Parks.

At Sponsor Change, after assessing the qualifications of available graduates, non-profits select Change Agents with the complementary set of skills necessary for their causes. The chosen individuals then dedicate their time to completing tasks for the organization.

The selection process may seem intimidating to some interested students, but rest assured that passion and experience for volunteering will go far, and all the more reason to get started volunteering now.

Parks also said she realizes that the high expenses of a university education impose much stress upon UH students who are constantly anxious about paying off their debts.

The good news is that when Change Agents accomplish their projects, Sponsor Change awards them with reimbursement towards their student debt, ranging from $10 to $20 per hour depending on the type of work being assigned. That is more than the average college student’s part-time job would pay.

Luckily, Sponsor Change has generous Sponsors who donate funds to the network, making these awards possible.

Right now, it is vital for current college students to realize they have this option after graduation. Sponsor Change makes it less necessary to spend endless hours at a part-time job when instead undergraduates can be dedicating time towards studying and volunteering, postponing their student debt worries until after crossing the stage with a diploma in hand.

Undergraduates have the opportunity to take advantage of the university experience by building their resume and focusing on a degree in an area they love, then using it after graduation to gain Sponsors and recruitment through Sponsor Change. However, waiting until after graduation to volunteer is not wise. It is more beneficial for students to start participating in volunteer activities now.

Again, this is where MVP proves advantageous. The organization has helped conduct two to three events per week, giving undergraduates plenty of flexibility to volunteer as often as they can to build a strong resume showcasing community service.

In regards to Sponsor Change, Parks articulates the double-sided benefits the post-graduate organization offers.

“Sponsor Change gives students the opportunity to help themselves while also making a difference in somebody else’s life,” Parks said. “I think it is an awesome way to get collegiate students involved with community service.”

If Sponsor Change were to migrate to Houston, it could open a possible opportunity for collaboration with MVP by helping current students pay off their debt while also offering more helping hands to this campus organization.

In hope of Sponsor Change making the move to this great city that is inundated with opportunities to help others, it is important for students to continue striving towards leaving behind a philanthropic footprint regardless of whether it decreases debt.

Opinion columnist Michelle Odgers is a creative writing junior and may be reached at [email protected]. Opinion editor Kelly Schafler is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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